WASHINGTON: Health insurance giant WellPoint has hired Robert Schooling, former APCO Worldwide president for the Americas, to serve as chief advocacy and alliance development officer.
Schooling will start in the newly created role on November 18 in the company's Washington, DC office. The position is housed within communications, but Schooling will also work closely with the government relations and policy team.
He will report to David Palombi, SVP of communications at WellPoint. Schooling's direct reports will be determined next year.
After serving at APCO for 18 years, where Schooling led communications campaigns on a number of corporate crises, public policy debates, and corporate and industry reputation efforts, he amicably stepped down in October for a more “corporate experience” at WellPoint, according to APCO CEO Margery Kraus.
It is understood that APCO has no current plans to replace Schooling, and that COO Neal Cohen will temporarily assume his responsibilities in the Americas.
Under the Affordable Care Act, October 1 marked the creation of health insurance exchanges, which spawned new opportunities and need for partnerships that never would have existed before, said Palombi.
WellPoint is bringing on Schooling to help the company identify and forge associations with key people and organizations throughout the healthcare space, including pharmaceutical companies, insurers, device makers, policymakers in Washington, and thought leaders who communicate throughout the system.
“With [Schooling's] connections, contacts, and reputation in Washington, he is going to be a huge asset in helping [WellPoint] meet and form alliances with the people we want to partner with, which will magnify what we are doing,” said Palombi.
“He is going to help us focus on the intersection between policy and reputation and thought leadership that maybe in the past wasn't as essential, whereas now, in a post Affordable Care Act world, it is,” he added.
WellPoint is the largest managed healthcare, for-profit company in the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association, operating 14 Blue Cross Blue Shield licenses.
In December, WellPoint completed its acquisition of Amerigroup, a standalone Medicaid company. The communications teams from both companies merged, and they now work as one large unit.
Last week, WellPoint reported a drop in third-quarter net income to $656.2 million, compared with $691.2 million in the same period a year earlier.